(Plain Press, August 2016) The MetroHealth System hosted a grand opening ceremony on July 14th for the MetroHealth Farm Stand. The produce stand offers for sale fresh, local, seasonal and affordable food from local community gardens and farms to the community. The MetroHealth Farm Stand is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until September in Women and Children’s area of MetroHealth’s Outpatient Pavilion at 2500 MetroHealth Drive on its main campus.
A visit to the stand a week after the grand opening show a steady flow both health care workers and patients at MetroHealth visiting the stand to purchase fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and other foods.
Certified holistic personal chef Yolanda Ramos and certified holistic health coach Rhonda Sharpley of The Healthy Living Kitchen are partnering with The MetroHealth Farm Stand to supply the local produce from urban growers and local farms. Live cooking demos and recipes will be available throughout the summer.
The MetroHealth Farm stand is a product of the 2015 Think Tank, a competition modeled after the popular ABC show Shark Tank. A group of MetroHealth employees wanted to provide the community and “food deserts” with healthy choices. Their idea was among the finalists chosen, and they received $20,000 to create the farm stand. This first season will serve as a 12-week pilot program.
Ramos and Sharpley say that local farms and gardens contributing produce to the MetroHealth Farm Stand include Maggie’s Farm on W. 61st in the Cleveland Stockyard neighborhood; Refugee Response on W. 24th & Bridge Avenue; and Cleveland Crop on E. 55th and Standard. They also purchase produce from Ohio farms including Amish farms in Holmes County.
The MetroHealth Farm Stand also sells vegetables and fresh herbs grown by the children participating in the Aamoth Family Wellness Center’s programs located near the farm stand in the MetroHealth Women and Children’s Pavilion. The children have their own garden which they tend as part of their nutrition, wellness and fitness classes. The proceeds from the sale of produce from the children’s garden are given to the Aamoth Family Wellness Center, says Ramos. Aamoth Family Wellness Center Health Coach and Behavior Change Specialist Susie Akers says the funds raised from the sale of the produce will be used to support next summer’s garden.
“These fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables make it easy for all of us to stay healthy. Ready access to the MetroHealth Farm Stand is making our community better,” said Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, president and CEO of MetroHealth. “The market also helps support local farmers, creates jobs, encourages more green space and stops us all from grabbing that bag of chips. We’re grateful to The Healthy Living Kitchen for making it happen.”
If the pilot program is successful, MetroHealth is looking to partner with Max S. Hayes High School in the Fall. Senior construction students will build the Farm Stand’s permanent physical structure and the two will work together to integrate the farm stand into the curriculum for each academic subject in the 11th and 12th grade academy.